F.E.A.R., PC

A classic first-person survival horror game from Monolith Productions and first released in 2005.

F.E.A.R. unfortunately came out not long after Half-Life 2, so was kind of drowned-out in the attention Valve‘s release was getting. It’s not as good as Half-Life 2 – to be quite frank – but is definitely up there with the best releases of that year.

In F.E.A.R. you play a guy in a crack S.W.A.T. team who is sent on a mission to eliminate a bad guy, but ends up getting dragged into a paranormal conspiracy. The story is so-so.

What is great about F.E.A.R., though, is the gameplay.

Not only can you use a thing called “Reflex Time”, which slows down time, but allows you to shoot as normal for a limited time (a bit like in The Matrix or in John Woo films), but you also have a much more interesting degree of control over your character than you do in most other first-person shooters. For example: melee combat is quite important in F.E.A.R. – you can instakill some enemies with perfectly executed rifle butt whacks. The stocks of all weapons can be used to strike enemies, and the lighter the weapon: the faster you move, and therefore the greater the chance of a surprise attack on your opponents.

Another great thing about F.E.A.R. is the opponent AI. You’re not fighting against dumb bots in this. Enemies will evade cleverly, even jumping through windows, or hunting you down as a team. You can only carry three different weapons at once, so must use weapons that you find strategically. Basically: you have to learn what weapon is good for what situation, and act accordingly.

Combined: all these factors make F.E.A.R. challenging and different enough to stand out from the crowd and also be very enjoyable to play. Especially on a dog’s bollocks PC.

F.E.A.R. does have its downsides. Your character’s run style is a bit ‘clompy’ – I felt as though the head movement was a bit weird. I got used to it eventually though. F.E.A.R. is also a bit repetitive and the opponents a bit ‘samey’, although none of these downsides mar the game too much.

Note #1: the game currently only seems to be available on Steam in a F.E.A.R. series pack, which is pricey, so I recommend buying it through GOG.com if you just want the first game (and the two expansion packs). It is worth noting that quite a few people say that this is the only game in the series worth playing…

Note #2: The online multiplayer element is no longer available. Multiplayer games via LAN only.

More: F.E.A.R. on Wikipedia
Steam: F.E.A.R. on Steam
GOG.com: F.E.A.R. on GOG.com

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